Drastic oil price changes, the associated economic perturbations, the coupling of energy conversion to entropy production in the form of emissions, and the problems of climate change call for a reappraisal of energy in economic theory. We review econometric growth analyses that do not weigh the production factors capital, labor, and energy by their cost shares. Their reproduction of economic growth in Germany, Japan, and the USA during the second half of 20th century is good. According to these analyses, energy's output elasticity, which measures its economic power, is much larger than energy's share in total factor cost, while for labor's output elasticity and cost share the opposite is true. This is consistent with profit and welfare optimization, if hitherto ignored technological constraints are taken into account. Computing the motion of the German industrial sector in its cost mountain, employing empirical data on factor quantities and prices, supports these results. The pivotal role of energy in economic growth provides leverage to energy policies that care about social well being and climate stability.
Energy Policy – Elsevier
Published: Nov 1, 2015
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